Monday, December 29, 2014

Old-Fashioned Cocoa from Scratch

My family just loves the rich flavor of old fashioned cocoa made from scratch. Scratch means you start with basic ingredients and go from there. I love it, because I always have the ingredients on hand. We're always ready for a cocoa fix. My kids will have the memory of Momma over the stove stirring the cocoa. They come running when they hear the sound the whisk makes in the pan. Here’s how I make mine. All you need is Hershey’s cocoa, sugar, milk and a bit of water.

Old-Fashioned Cocoa from Scratch

1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa
1 cup of white sugar
1/3 cup of cold water
Enough milk to fill 3 quart saucepan

  • Combine 1/2 cup Hershey’s cocoa and 1 cup of white sugar in a three quart saucepan using a wire whisk.  I do this while the cocoa and sugar are still dry so that the cocoa will mix in nice and smooth without a bunch of lumps.
  • Add about 1/3 cup of cold water and mix until smooth.  Bring to a boil and continue to boil it for about a minute, stirring constantly.  Don’t worry if it sticks to the sides, it’ll melt back into the cocoa as it heats up.
  • Fill the pan with milk, It”ll be a little more than a half a gallon of milk.  Stir and heat using  medium heat.  If you need to walk away from it, just turn it on the lowest heat.   I check to see if it’s hot enough by dropping in a miniature marshmallow.  It’s ready when the marshmallow just starts to melt.  I offer extra milk to my little ones to cool it if they want it.
This is so easy, we can make it any time we want it.  Read aloud time is one of our favorite times to enjoy Old Fashioned Cocoa.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!

Happy to be Back Home

Wrapping Up Christmas
Homestead Blog Hop Christian Blogger Link Up Raising Homemakers - A Wise Woman Builds Her Home  

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #31

Amy Lane Photography c 2014
It's been a whirlwind of activity around here lately.  In addition to Kringling, we've been decorating a bit more, making cake balls for the first time (yum), and getting the restaurant ready to close for the season.  Here's my thrifty week:

~ Mended my daughter's black pants.

~ Let out elastic in my daughter's dance pants
~ I searched until I found a very good quality item I needed for Christmas for a good price.  Wish I could share, but someone reads my blog. ~wink~

~ I found a brand new something that another someone is going to love for $4.99 at the thrift store with $29.99 tag still on it!  Woo hoo! Right size.  Right color.  Right on!

~ I purchased some stocking stuffers at the dollar store.

~ I ate at home one night while I was alone instead of going out for fast food.

~ I received a new Bible for review.  I'm looking for one with space to write notes during church.

~ My daughter, Emily, made cake balls with a cake mix she received as a gift and things we had on hand.
~ I made a thrifty lunch of potato soup.

~ Altogether, I think I've spent around $125 - $150 for gifts this year for our family of six.  It was nearly all tip money, change, and a few odd dollars here and there that I have squirreled away since October.   God has blessed me with good sales and a family that doesn't mind second hand.Thank you God.

~ I'll be giving dishcloths as gifts to some friends.  I wrapped them all up yesterday with raffia that I had on hand.  I purchased it at a garage sale last summer for next to nothing.

I'm almost done with my shopping.  I've got a couple more items and some gift wrap to buy.  I tend to underestimate how much I'll need each year.  Last night my husband told me that he's going to buy some small gifts for the kids, too. Yay!

Well, it's time to get ready for church.  My daughters, Emily and Amy, are performing in a Christmas dance today.

Enjoy the moments!
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Friday, December 19, 2014

Ghosts of Christmas Past

There's such a tendency to think about the past at Christmastime.  We have sweet memories of loved ones that have gone on before us.  We have traditions and maybe even rituals that we might not even realize we have.  That can be a good thing for holding families together and making them strong.  But not all of our memories or traditions are positive.  We may be left with a longing for the way things used to be before circumstances changed or certain people came into or left our lives for some reason.  Some of us may be facing an empty nest for the first time or a parent or spouse or child may have died recently, this year, last year, or twenty years ago.  Christmastime makes it all fresh again, doesn't it?  

Let's make a decision to live in this moment, to love this moment, to enjoy those with whom we're with right now or to enjoy the solitude of being alone with God.
Enjoy memories of Christmas past, but don't let the ghosts of memories spoil Christmas present.
Have a wonderful Christmas week!
Blessings from Harvest Lane Cottage
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Sunday, December 14, 2014

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #30

Copyright Amy Lane Photography
It was a busy week.  I worked every day at the restaurant.  We had sick employees every day. I filled in for them.  It comes with being married to the owner. ~smile~  In one more week, we'll close for the season.  I'll have two or more months to practice being even more thrifty and frugal than I usually am. God is always faithful to take care of us.  Many times He provides in miraculous ways.  Thank you, God.  Here's how I was thrifty and frugal this past week:

~ I bought two unopened rolls of nice wrapping paper for a dollar at the thrift store.

~ I ordered a DVD that my child wished for from Swap A DVD.

~ I bought 50 lbs of potatoes at Aldi for $5.95.  We don't usually eat many white potatoes, but we're getting ready to go into a season where I'll need to be extra thrifty.  Our income this winter will be irregular at best.

~ I found some stocking stuffers at Dollar Tree.

~ I bought a pair of heavy work pants for my son at Salvation Army for $5.

~ Amy found holly in the yard and brought several sprigs in to decorate the house.

~ I bought 15 lbs of sweet potatoes for $4.95.

~ I earned a free book credit by sending a book through Paperback Swap.

Trade Books for Free - PaperBack Swap.

~ I reused our artificial tree.

~ I made dishcloths from yarn that was given to me.

~ I filled up my gas tank for $2.17 a gallon.  Woo hoo!

~ I ordered a Bible to review in exchange for a free copy.

Well, that's all I can think of right now.  I encourage you to keep your eyes out for deals and make do ways to make Christmas for your loved ones.

Happy Kringling!

Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage
This Post Featured at
So Much At Home

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

A Christmas Miracle on the Frontier

Please enjoy this story that I share each year....

Amy Lane Photography 
A Christmas Miracle on the Frontier

     I remember a day one winter that stands out like a boulder in my life. The weather was unusually cold; our salary had not been regularly paid and it did not meet our needs when it was.
My husband was away much of the time, traveling from one district to another. Our boys were well, but my little Ruth was ailing and at best none of us were decently clothed. I patched and re -patched, with spirits sinking to the lowest ebb. The water gave out in the well and the wind blew through the cracks in the floor.

     The people in the parish were kind, and generous too, but the settlement was new and each family was struggling for itself. Little by little, at the time I needed it most, my faith began to waver.
Early in life I was taught to take God at His word, and I thought my lesson was well learned. I had lived upon the promises in dark times until I knew, as David did, who was my Fortress and my Deliverer. Now a daily prayer for forgiveness was all that I could offer. 

     My husband’s overcoat was hardly thick enough for October, and he was often obliged to ride miles to attend some meeting or funeral.  Christmas was coming; the children always expected their presents. I remember the ice was thick and smooth and the boys were each craving a pair of skates. Ruth, in some unaccountable way, had taken a fancy that the dolls I had made were no longer suitable; she wanted a nice large one, and insisted on praying for it.

     I knew it was impossible, but, oh! how I wanted to give each child his present. It seemed as if God had deserted us. But I did not tell my husband all this. He worked so earnestly and heartily, I supposed him to be as hopeful as ever. I kept the sitting room cheerful with an open fire, and I tried to serve our scanty meals as invitingly as I could.

     That morning before Christmas, James was called to see a sick man. I put up a piece of bread for his lunch–it was the best I could do–wrapped my plaid shawl around his neck and then tried to whisper a promise as I often had, but the words died away upon my lips. I let him go without it.  That was a dark, hopeless day. I coaxed the children to bed early, for I could not bear their talk. When Ruth went, I listened for her prayer. She asked for the last time most explicitly for her doll and for skates for her brothers. Her bright face looked so lovely when she whispered to me, “You know I think they’ll be here early tomorrow morning, Mama” that I thought I could move Heaven and earth to save her from disappointment. I sat down alone and gave way to the most bitter tears.

     Before long James returned, chilled and exhausted. He drew off his boots. The thin stockings clipped off with them and his feet were red with cold. “I wouldn’t treat a dog that way; let alone a faithful servant,” I said. Then as I glanced up and saw the hard lines in his face and the look of despair, it flashed across me that James had let go too.

     I brought him a cup of tea, feeling sick and dizzy at the very thought. He took my hand and we sat for an hour without a word. I wanted to die and meet God and tell Him His promise wasn’t true–my soul was so full of rebellious despair.

     There came a sound of bells, a quick step and a loud knock at the door. James sprang to open it. There stood Deacon White. “A box came by express just before dark. I brought it around as soon as I could get away. Reckoned it might be for Christmas. ‘At any rate’ I said, ‘they shall have it tonight.’ Here is a turkey my wife asked me to fetch along and these other things I believe belong to you.”
There were a basket of potatoes, and a bag of flour. Talking all the time, he hurried in the box and then with a hearty good night, he rode away.

     Still without speaking, James found a chisel and opened the box. He drew out first a thick red blanket and we saw that beneath it, the box was full of clothing. It seemed at that moment as if Christ fastened upon me a look of reproach. James sat down and covered his face with his hands. “I can’t touch them,” he explained. “I haven’t been true, just when God was trying me to see if I could hold out. Do you think I could not see how you were suffering? And I had no word of comfort to offer. I know now how to preach the awfulness of turning away from God.”

     “James,” I said, clinging to him, “don’t take it to heart like this. I am to blame. I ought to have helped you. We will ask Him together to forgive us.”  We poured out words of praise–Bible words, for nothing else could express our thanksgiving.  It was eleven o’ clock; the fire was low and there was the great box with nothing touched but the warm blanket we needed. We piled on some fresh logs, lighted two candles and began to examine our treasures.

     We drew out an overcoat. I made James try it on–just the right size–and I danced around him, for all my lightheartedness had returned. There was a cloak and he insisted on seeing me in it. My spirits always infected him and we both laughed like foolish children.

     There was a warm suit of clothes also and three pairs of woolen hose. There were a dress for me and yards of flannel, a pair of arctic overshoes for each of us and in mine a slip of paper. I have it now and mean to hand it down to my children. It was Jacob’s blessing to Asher: “Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days so shall thy strength be.”

     In the gloves, evidently for James, the same dear hand had written: “I the Lord thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.”  It was a wonderful box and packed with thoughtful care. There were a suit of clothes for each of the boys and a little red gown for Ruth. There were mittens, scarf, and hood, and down in the center–a box. We opened it and there was a great wax doll!! I burst into tears again and James wept with me for joy. It was too much! And then we both exclaimed again, for close behind it came two pairs of skates. There were books for us to read–some of them I had wished to see–stories for the children to read, aprons and underclothing, knots of ribbon, a gay little tidy, a lovely photograph, needles, buttons, and thread, a muff, and an envelope containing a ten dollar gold piece.

     At last we cried over everything we took up. It was past midnight and we were faint and exhausted even with happiness. I made a cup of tea, cut a fresh loaf of bread and James boiled some eggs. We drew up the table before the fire. How we enjoyed our supper! And then we sat talking over our life and how sure a help God always proved.

     You should have seen the children the next morning! The boys raised a shout at the sight of their skates–Ruth caught up her doll and hugged it tightly without a word; then she went into her room and knelt by her bed.  When she came back she whispered to me, “I knew it would be here Mama, but I wanted to thank God just the same, you know.”

     “Look here, Wife, see the difference!” We went to the window and there were the boys out of the house already and skating on the crust with all their might.  My husband and I both tried to return thanks to the church in the East that sent us the box–and have tried to return thanks unto God every day since. 

     Hard times have come again and again, but we have trusted in Him–dreading nothing so much as a doubt of His protecting care. “They that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing.”

Reprinted by permission from Lizzie at A Dusty Frame.   She typed it up from a very old book, The Sword Book of Treasures by Dr. John R. Rice, published in 1946 gem. .

May I suggest?

Monday, December 8, 2014

Away in a Manger... Not Just a Christmas Carol

Used with permission. Click for credit.

When I was a little girl, a very little girl, my mommy used to sing Away in a Manger to me as a lullaby.  It wasn't until I was much older that I learned that it was a Christmas carol.  It holds a special place in my heart.

I loved to listen to my mom sing.  We sang often as I grew up.  We sang while driving in the car, while we worked, while we were sitting around with nothing to do.  It was a wonderful pastime. Unfortunately, somewhere along the way, I lost my song... not a certain song, but the desire to sing and sing and sing.  Perhaps it was when she died young. Perhaps it was the hardships of life.  Perhaps it was something else.  I don't really know.  I'm asking God to give me back my song.

Away in a Manger seems a good place to begin.

Happy Christmas!

Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

May I suggest?

Saturday, December 6, 2014

A Thrifty Week at Harvest Lane Cottage #29

Dear Reader,
     I suppose you're right in the thick of preparing for Christmas.  There are so many things we do that get us all too busy to enjoy the season.  I do hope you take time to relax with your family and friends.  Think about what's really important to you.  Let a few things go.  It's okay.

Here's how I've been frugal in my home recently:
~  Wrote review Awaken Love
~  Bought 6 packages of chicken thighs marked $2 off
~  Ordered gifts on-line at Amazon totaling more than $35 to get free shipping
~  Used a redemption code HOLIDAY30 to get 30% off one book at Amazon.  I don't know if the code is still good or not.
~  Saved gas by shopping on-line
~  Saved hundreds of dollars by not going to the medical doctor but going to the herbalist doctor instead.
~  Downloaded free Christmas books for my Kindle
~  Made do with that I had for meals

I hope you have a thrifty week!  Be creative.  There are all kinds of ways to save money.  Need some ideas?  My most popular post of all time can give you forty ways.

Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage

Thursday, December 4, 2014

It's How You Look at It... A Laura Ingalls Wilder Christmas

"Then Pa and Ma and Mr. Edwards sat by the fire 

and talked about Christmas times back in Tennessee and up north in the Big Woods. But Mary and Laura looked at their beautiful cakes and played with their pennies and drank water out of their new cups. And little by little they licked and sucked their sticks of candy, till each stick was sharp-pointed on one end. That was a happy Christmas."

~Laura Ingalls Wilder
"Little House On The Prairie," page 252

It's all in how you look at it, isn't it?
Enjoy what you have, where you are, whom you are with now.


Monday, December 1, 2014

Favorite First Lines... A Christmas Carol

“Marley was dead, to begin with ... This must be distintly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate.”  

A Christmas Carol  by Charles Dickens

I watch George C. Scott as Ebenezer Scrooge in A Christmas Carol nearly every year.  I also enjoy Focus on the Family's Radio Theater version as well.  Even so, nothing truly compares with reading the book.

Advent Blessings!
Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage